Doris GRASER

A pair of doves stood side by side pecking at seeds on the birdfeeder in Doris' backyard as she lay breathing her last in her bedroom. Born 1926 in Racine, Wisconsin she remembered loving the aroma outside the sauerkraut factory on her walks to school. She also loved taking a train with her mother to see the Cubs play baseball in Chicago sparking a lifelong love of sports. Soon after graduating high school at 16 Doris went to live with an aunt in Miami where she got a job in a real estate office. One morning at the bus stop on her way to work a young man approached. "Good morning," he said, "my name is, Jay." He was sweet and she agreed to sail in the harbor with him the following weekend. She thought he owned the yacht, and was a little disappointed when she learned he was only the first mate but she fell in love with his charm and good looks. After a short courtship he asked her to marry him but at 22 she was not ready and wanted to see the world. She applied for and was hired as a civilian secretary for the U.S. Army in Heidelberg, Germany just after the Second World War. On the boat ride to Europe a leaking pipe in her cabin ruined her clothes. She recalled gracious women, strangers to her, lent her clothes. Doris, a quick learner, was eager to prove herself in her job. She learned to type at 100 words a minute and became a personal secretary for a general. He wrote a letter commending her parents for raising such a fine young lady. In the meantime Jay persisted writing to her regularly and asking for her hand. She finally agreed but only if he promised to take her back to Europe. On their first wedding anniversary the two were on a ship for Italy. "I'll never forget Jay glowing with excitement when we came into port," Doris recalled. Jay got a job with the Rome Daily American newspaper and she with the American Embassy. They lived in a pensione, in the heart of old Rome. They fell in love with the city and all things Italian. The couple returned to Miami after two years and moved to California to escape the summer heat and humidity of Florida. It was in Sonoma County where discovered and bought, "Casa de Felicidad," a Spanish style adobe brick house built on a hill overlooking Santa Rosa. Jay built a large bird feeder in the back yard where they faithfully fed birds and never shooed away deer snacking on their landscape plants. "We've had a long and beautiful life here," Doris often said. She believed that, "next to Rome, this is the best place in the world to live." Jay made a career at the Press Democrat and Doris as a secretary at Crocker Bank and The Bank of California. They traveled for six weeks each year eventually seeing most of the world. They remained best friends in their 54 years together and called each other "pal." Jay passed in 2004. Doris is survived by countless friends, Sweet Pea, her cat, and an adopted son and daughter-in-law, Armando and Kathy Garcia. She was known for her generosity, most of all with her love and made friends everywhere she went. It would have pleased her greatly knowing that two doves were together at the feeder in her backyard on her last day. Doris and Jay loved animals always having pets. It was her wish that friends honor her by donating to Sonoma Humane Society, P.O. Box 1296, Santa Rosa, CA 95402.

Published Online in the Press Democrat from Mar. 3 to Mar. 4, 2013